The International Law Enforcement Academy, popularly known as 'FBI Academy', was set up by the US and Hungarian governments in 1995. It's based in Budapest and trains police officers from Central and Eastern Europe in fighting organised crime. But now the United States says it will shift the focus of it's training to fighting terrorism. Sandor Laczko of Radio Budapest has been speaking to the commander of the academy, Dale Wegkamp.
"Our primary shift is that we are increasing the number of opportunities that we have for specialised training courses. So our 8 week program, which is our core program where most of our instruction occurs, we've expanded our counter terrorism block there, but still much of the emphasis is on organised crime as well."
So the mafia cannot have a sigh of relief?
"No. There continues to be the main focus of this institution, to focus on organised crime instruction. But we've expanded that. Even counter terrorism investigations, many of them have an organised crime connection because many terrorist groups act as an organised crime family in a lot of their dealings."
In practice what does this shift mean?
"For us it means offering more specialised training courses so we bring in several different agencies now that help us target specific law enforcement and other security specialists who would be working in counter terrorism investigations in their respective countries. And it allows us to give intense training to them as far as both how to investigate and then prosecute terrorist elements operating in their countries."
In general, what sort of training is provided and who are the students?
"The International Law Enforcement Academy was formed in the spring of 1995 and since the inception we worked with 26 countries which were typically from the Soviet sphere of influence. Our training is geared towards police middle management and command level officers and prosecutors from those different countries and we offer them training that will help them to function as command level officers in their respective police departments. So there's a lot of anti corruption training, ethics, human dignity, police management and leadership skills are emphasised, as well as how to run police investigations in different specific types of crime elements such as organised crime or white collar crime to name a couple of examples."
Going back to terrorism for a moment, how much has September 11th. affected the activities of this academy?
"I think how it has impacted us primarily is that we have seen increased opportunities for cooperative training between the many different countries that we work with as well as a closer connection with some of our Western European allies, as far as their participation in our training program here. So it has brought the law enforcement family closer together to help improve our level of cooperation, where everyone realises that this is a global problem and not just a problem in specific countries now."